By: Jeff Blay
For one Italian athlete, his dreams were never to play World Cup Soccer. Instead he spent most of his childhood lacing up his skates, taping his stick, and stepping out onto the rink. With hopes of one day playing professional hockey, 20-year-old Marco Insam is one step closer to his dream. Picked up by the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs, the Selva Gardena native is one of the few Italian-born players to make it into North American competitive hockey.
Insam was born in the small town of Selva Gardena in Northern Italy, and grew up around ski resorts and hockey rinks, and began taking skating lessons in kindergarten. His father was strongly involved in hockey with the Italian National team as well as the Olympic team, and moved his family to Milan as he took a General Manager/coaching position for a team located there. Marco’s decision to take hockey seriously was largely due to his father’s passion for the sport. Marco remembers hanging around the rink as a little kid when his father was coach of the National team. He grew up admiring the older Italian players, and dreamed of one day playing along side them representing his country.
Marco put in a solid effort as a young player in Italy, and made the choice to move to Canada to improve his hockey skills when he was only15. Marco attended a private school in Saskatchewan called the College of Notre Dame where he excelled on and off the ice, making his dream become reality.
Marco played for Italy in the U-18 world juniors, three times in the U-20 world juniors, and when he was just 18-yeard old, he made the senior team for the Quebec City World Tournament.
“It is a great experience to represent your country in the sport of hockey,” said Insam. “I got to play with a lot of old friends from back home, and it was nice to see them again.”
Insam said it was a difficult decision to leave his family at such an early age, but he now knows he made the right one. According to Insam, it is a complete different level of hockey in North America. It is home to the best junior leagues in the world (the CHL) and Marco hopes to play competitive hockey in North America as long as he can. Marco continues to get the support of his family from back home. His parents watch the IceDogs games over the internet, and his father still gives him tips about his play.
“It is really important to have the support of my parents and family,” he said. “I would not be here without them.”
Insam travels back to Italy at Christmas and over the summer, but comes back to Niagara in June to work out with teammates at the team facilities. His support here in Canada comes from his billets (the people who house him in Niagara during the IceDog’s season), his teammates, and in particular, the parents of teammate Reggie Traccitto.
“I am really close with Reggie and his parents,” said Marco. “They always help me out when I’m having a tough time, and give me good advice and support off the ice.”
Marco has enjoyed his tenure in the CHL, and says he could not have asked for a better organization to be apart of in the IceDogs.
“The IceDog organization really spoils us,” he said. “The new coaches this year are really good; a lot of them had experience in the NHL, so they really know their stuff.”
Being 20 years of age, Marco is in his last eligible year as an OHL player (otherwise known as an over-ager.) He plans to take his future career in hockey day by day, but his main goal is to stay in North America to continue his hockey career.